Select Committee on Home Affairs and Work and Pensions First Report


The Committees' inquiry

1. The Government published its draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill on 23 March 2005.[1] Its consultation on the draft Bill ended on 17 June. The Home Affairs and Work and Pensions Committees had expressed an interest in this matter in the last Parliament and, on reappointment after the 2005 election, decided to examine the Government's proposals. In July 2005 we appointed draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill Sub-committees to meet concurrently "to consider and report on the Government's draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill".

2. On 20 July, the Sub-committees invited interested parties to submit written memoranda. We asked those who had already responded to the Home Office consultation for permission to use these responses as evidence, but also welcomed additional or updated memoranda from these respondents and others. We received over 150 submissions from a wide range of interested organisations and individuals.

3. The Government had expressed the hope that we would report to the House before Christmas and this timeframe restricted the amount of oral evidence we were able to take. We held six evidence sessions starting on 24 October 2005 and sought to hear from witnesses who represented a range of views articulated in written evidence. We made a particular effort to include individuals who had been bereaved by public disasters or deaths in the workplace, or organisations representing them. We regret that we were unable to hear from all of the organisations who contacted us during the course of the inquiry, requesting to be heard. However, we assure them and all those who submitted written evidence to our inquiry that we have fully taken into account all views expressed in written, as well as oral, evidence.

4. We took oral evidence from 29 organisations and individuals. They were: Disaster Action; the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign; Amicus; the Trades Union Congress; the Transport and General Workers' Union; the Centre for Corporate Accountability; the Law Reform Committee of the General Council of the Bar; the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association; Thompsons Solicitors; Professor Frank Wright; the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health; the Railway Forum; the Rail Safety and Standards Board; the Construction Confederation; the Royal Academy of Engineering; the Institute of Directors; EEF, the manufacturers' organisation; the Marchioness Contact Group; the Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians; the Confederation of British Industry; the Association of Principal Fire Officers; the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland; the Police Federation of England and Wales; the Prison Reform Trust; JUSTICE; Lord Justice Judge; the Health and Safety Commission; the Health and Safety Executive; and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, Fiona Mactaggart MP. The transcripts of all these sessions are printed in full in Volume III of the Report.

5. We are grateful to all those who submitted written evidence or gave oral evidence to our inquiry. We would also like to express our thanks to our two Specialist Advisers: Professor Chris Clarkson, Professor and Dean of Law at the University of Leicester and Professor Celia Wells, Professor of Law at Cardiff University.

1   Home Office, Corporate Manslaughter: The Government's Draft Bill for Reform, Cm 6497, March 2005 Back

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Prepared 20 December 2005